With the introduction of the Nikon D3200 with 24 megapixels, it is interesting to test this fast Sigma telephoto lens on a Nikon camera with a DX sensor. If you put this lens on a Nikon camera with an image sensor of the APS-C / DX format, such as the Nikon D3200 , you come to a focal equivalent of 128 mm. This makes the 85 mm lens the successor of the classic 135 mm telephoto lens.
For the test of this lens on a full frame camera, see our review of the Sigma 85 mm 1.4 EX DG HSM FF op een Canon 5D MK2.
Construction and autofocus
The lens is made of a high-quality type of plastic, and the mount is made of metal. For the finishing of the house, a “NR coating” (New & Robust) is used. It seems that this finish is less susceptible to damage than the old coating. The whole feels solid, the focus ring turns smoothly without play, and the filter does not rotate. The lens includes a separate lens hood specifically for cameras with an APS-C sensor. The included case is very nice too, classy!
The autofocus is of the HSM type. Focusing is not very fast, almost without noise and in low light, the camera rarely commutes.
Vignetting Sigma 85 1.4
If you look at the lens from the front, you notice the large amount of glass used in this lens. No wonder vignetting, expressed in stops, is very low at all apertures. In practice, you do not need to keep it in mind. Here, you see one of the benefits of using a lens designed for a camera with a full frame sensor on a camera with a smaller APS-C center.
Distortion Sigma 85 1.4
The measured distortion is, as in our previous tests of this lens, extremely low i.e. -0.1%. This will never be visible or disturbing.
More and more lenses are on the market that offer a high resolution at an attractive price. However, far less affordable lenses are available that also offer a high luminosity and a nice bokeh. This differentiates the Sigma 85 1.4. The Sigma 85 mm 1.4 also shows a very nice round, woolly bokeh on a camera with an APS-C sensor at full aperture, as long as you do not stop down too much of course. At aperture 4, the bokeh is less round and much more restless in a shot taken from the same position.
Flare Sigma 85 1.4
In practice, we have not encountered flare. In addition, in the studio, we have managed to create flare and ghosting of the diaphragm, but we have had to shine directly into the lens with a strong light. Yet, our advice is to avoid direct backlight with the Sigma 85mm 1.4 in practice.
Resolution Sigma 85 1.4
The resolution, expressed in lines /sensor height, already shows a very good value in the center at f/2.8 and the top is very high at f/5.6. The corners draw quickly and reach a very nice value at f/2.8. Overall, this is a sharp lens.
Playing with depth of field!
Kit lenses and standard zoom lenses are generally faint, making it impossible to play with the depth of field. Due to the combination of a high luminosity, and a reasonably long focal length, the depth of field can be limited with the Sigma 85 1.4 mm. This allows you to focus on the subject. The blurred foreground and background look very nicely ‘woolly.’
The combination of a high center resolution and a beautiful background blur at full aperture make this short Sigma telephoto lens very suitable as portrait lens. At aperture 1.4, the depth of field is so small that in the magnification of the photo, it is striking that one has focused on the eyelashes instead of on the eyes.
Lateral chromatic aberration
It is noticeable in the tests of Sigma lenses that the most common form of chromatic aberration (lateral CA) is already kept low in the design of the lens. Lateral chromatic aberration remains at a very low value in this test with the Nikon D3200 at all apertures too. Even at high magnifications, you will not encounter red or green spots in the corners in sharp contrast transitions. This is quite an achievement for such a luminous lens!
Color bokeh / Axial chromatic aberation
Lenses with a higher luminosity than f/2.8 can show axial chromatic aberration in the bokeh. Green and purple spots can identify this color bokeh in sharp contrast transitions in the blurred parts. Unlike lateral chromatic aberration, which you only find in the corners, axial CA can occur in the entire image.
Here, a blurry picture of a front of a car is used to illustrate color bokeh in a shot taken with the Sigma 85 mm 1.4 at full aperture.
With Nikon’s Capture NX, one can very effective remove color bokeh from Nikon RAW files. In the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop, color bokeh can be removed effectively under lens correction / chromatic aberration.
Conclusion Sigma 85 mm 1.4 EX DG HSM review
- High optical quality: very low distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. High center resolution and sharp from center to corner from aperture 4
- Built very well
- Beautifully, woolly display of blurred parts
- Attractive price to quality ratio
- Autofocus not very fast
More and more lenses are on the market offer a high resolution at an attractive price. However, far less affordable lenses are available that also offer a high luminosity and a nice bokeh. This differentiates the Sigma 85 1.4. The Sigma 85 mm 1.4 EX DG HSM is designed for a full frame camera. On a camera with an APS-C sensor, this lens perhaps comes out best. The resolution is high and chromatic aberration, vignetting, and distortion are very low. The Sigma 85 mm is not cheap and yet, this price is attractive when you look at the offered performances.